BUSCH: Bristol II: Ron Hornaday qualifying notes



BRISTOL, Tenn. (Friday, Aug. 26, 2005) -- Ron Hornaday and the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports set the 40th-fastest qualifying time for tonight's NASCAR Busch Series Food City 250 on the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval but missed making the 43-car starting field by a mere seven 1,000ths of a second as handling issues proved to be too difficult to overcome.

Hornaday, who started 25th in his only previous stint behind the wheel of the Smith & Wesson Racing machine at Atlanta last March, was one of 23 drivers required to make tonight's 250-lap main event based on qualifying time as NASCAR rules automatically reserve spots in the starting field for the top 30 teams in the latest owners standings. This event marked just the fifth of eight scheduled NASCAR Busch Series races for the first-year Smith & Wesson Racing team and it stood 53rd in the owners standings entering the weekend.

From the start of this morning's first and only practice session, Hornaday and the SKI Motorsports team worked feverishly to try and keep the Smith & Wesson Chevrolet from bottoming out entering the high-banked corners on this famed concrete oval. Hornaday was able to clock the 41st-fastest lap in the two-hour, 10-minute practice session at 121.389 mph (15.807 seconds) despite the problem. In qualifying late this afternoon, Hornaday bettered that practice lap with an effort of 121.767 mph (15.758 seconds) with bottoming out still prevalent during his two-lap run. That put him higher on the qualifying timesheet than four competitors who still ended up making the race based on owners points and past champion status. But it turned out to be a mere seven 1,000ths of a second behind Jay Sauter, who earned the 13th and final starting spot awarded to a competitor not in the top 30 in owners points.

Hornaday and the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet team will be back at it next weekend in Fontana, Calif., for Saturday night's Ameriquest 300 on the California Speedway 2-mile tri-oval.

RON HORNADAY "I think we had a case of the 'new car blues' today. We were bottoming out during our qualifying run and it was a problem we had all day long. It upset the car in the turns where I had to get out of the gas just enough to keep us from making the race. It's a shame because I think we had a really good car for the race, and we would have put on a good show for all these fans and our Smith & Wesson guests. I really love this track and it's frustrating to have to go home early. But we'll get over it and come back stronger for it at Fontana next week."

JEFF SPRAKER (Crew Chief) "We did the best we could do under the circumstances. We certainly didn't leave anything on the table. Ron's a heck of a driver, especially on a track like this, and he gave it all he could. I think we had a good race car. But in our situation, having to make the race on (qualifying) time or go home, you can't just come here and be good. You have to be great from the start. We came here in just our fifth race together and beat a lot of well-established teams, and still we have to go home. That's tough, but we'll be back next week."

CHRIS LENCHESKI (SKI Motorsports President) "Obviously, we're disappointed, but you have to look at where we are in the history of this program. We all have higher expectations and set some very ambitious goals, but this is only our fifth race together and we've taken on one of the more difficult tasks in motorsports -- or perhaps in all of sports. We'll just keep our heads down and keep working at it and the results will come. The best part of all is we'll be back on the track next week at Fontana. We have faith that Jeff (Spraker) an all the fine people at the race shop can make it work. Hey, if you're going to climb a mountain, you may as well pick Everest if you want to get the ultimate feeling of accomplishment."

-ski motorsports

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Drivers Jay Sauter , Ron Hornaday Jr.